The Washington Post

John Boehner: Potential Senate rules change ‘designed to marginalize Senate Republicans’

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is joined by other members of the House GOP leadership Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla – GETTY IMAGES)

He doesn’t officially have any say in the matter, but House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn’t like the idea of changing the rules of the Senate. Nope, not one bit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) once again publicly toyed this week with the idea of tweaking the Senate’s rules slightly by eliminating the filibuster vote that is needed to formally begin debate on legislation. He would allow for a final filibuster vote, thus making the chamber run more efficiently.

Another part of Reid’s proposal calls for mandating that if legislation doesn’t get the required 60 votes to end filibusters, then the 40-something senators in the minority would have to maintain a “talking filibuster” akin to the version of the 1939 classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Democrats haven’t said exactly how that would work, specifically whether minority senators would have to host an all-night talkathon.

But either way, Boehner doesn’t want it. On Thursday, he called talk of a rules change “clearly designed to marginalize Senate Republicans and their constituents while greasing the skids for controversial partisan measures.”

“I question the wisdom of this maneuver, especially at a time when cooperation on Capitol Hill is critical, and fully support [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s efforts to protect minority rights, which are an essential part of our constitutional tradition,” he said. “Any bill that reaches a Republican-led House based on Senate Democrats’ heavy-handed power play would be dead on arrival.”

Boehner’s comments echo what McConnell has said several times this week — often in the midst of heated exchanges on the Senate floor alongside Reid.

Whether Reid goes through with the rules changes depends mostly on how both parties comport themselves in the weeks to come.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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Ed O'Keefe · November 29, 2012